Chapter no 19 – Apollo

A Curse for True Love

Apollo’s boots were going to be ruined. There was so much blood. Blood stained the carpets, the walls, and now his boots. Not that he was actually mad about the boots. Apollo could easily get more boots—he didn’t care about his footwear, not really. What truly bothered him was that his wife had been carrying around a dagger that had once belonged to Jacks.

Apollo would have loved to have gone out and hunted the bastard that very night, but he had to deal with this mess instead.

“You said there was one survivor?” he asked.

“Yes, Your Highness,” replied the guard assigned to this particular scene. “I’d like to speak with him privately.” Apollo marched out into the hall, stepping in more blood as he moved. He’d seen death before, but it had

never been this grisly.

Down the hall, he heard another guard heaving into a pot.

Apollo was thankful he hadn’t had the time to eat before arriving, or he would have done the same.

Upstairs the mood was grim, but at least the air no longer held the coppery scent of blood.

It smelled of beeswax candles. Their soft light cast a glow over the flowery paper covering the walls. There were also a number of framed watercolor paintings and pencil sketches. Someone in the family must have

been an artist, for none of the paintings were that good at first. But as he ventured farther down the hall, the art grew quite a bit better. Some of the sketches appeared to be faithful renderings of the family members who now lay strewn dead across the floor downstairs.

Finally the guard stopped in front of the door that must have led to the massacre’s sole survivor.

“I’ll enter alone,” said Apollo. “But, Your Highness—”

“That’s an order. This victim has been through enough torment tonight. I don’t want him to feel as if he’s being interrogated.”

The guard dutifully stepped aside.

Apollo entered the dim room and shut the door behind him.

A boy who looked to be about fourteen sat curled up on a large sleigh bed, holding his knees as he rocked back and forth. He was skinny, most likely going through a growth phase rather than malnourished.

The Fortunas were one of the Great Houses. Even if they lost half their fortune, they would always have more than enough to eat.

That’s why Apollo had been called here tonight. It wasn’t often most of the members of a Great House were massacred in a single night. Word of what had happened here would get out, and when it did, the Crown needed to be in control of what was said.

This sort of news could either cast a further pallor on Apollo’s reign or make it stronger.

“Hello there,” Apollo said as he sat gingerly on the edge of the bed. The boy curled tighter into himself.

“I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said the boy, voice cracking. “Nothing could hurt more than this.”

“No,” Apollo agreed. “I’ve never seen anything so horrific, which is why I’m here. I want to make sure whoever committed this atrocity is caught so that it can never happen again.”

“You can’t catch him,” the boy murmured, rocking back and forth. “He’s not human.”

“Why do you say that?”

The boy finally looked up. The terror on his face was so raw he looked like a skeleton with skin painted on. “He moved so fast. I was up here when

I heard the first scream. It was my sister. She’s always so dramatic. I ignored it at first. Then there was another and another.”

The boy brought both hands to the sides of his head and covered his ears as if he were still hearing the wails.

“I knew it was bad—evil. I ran downstairs, but as soon as I saw all the blood, I hid in the closet.”

“Did you see who did this before you hid?” The boy nodded shakily. “He looked feral.” “Did he look like Lord Jacks?”


“Are you certain?” Apollo asked.

He didn’t actually believe it was Lord Jacks. Only one type of creature could cause this sort of devastation. But he wanted the boy to say it was Jacks. It would make everything so much easier.

“It wasn’t him. I would have recognized him. Lord Jacks was friends with my grandmother before she passed. This man—I don’t think he was even a man . . .”

The boy brought the palms of his hands to his eyes and quietly cried.

Apollo, never having been comfortable with crying, pushed up from the bed and took a quick survey of the room. There was a desk near the window with an easel to the side of it. It seemed this boy was the family artist. Propped against the easel was a half-finished watercolor that looked rather nice. On the desk there were even more drawings and sketches and notebooks. He seemed to favor animals and people. Although there was one drawing of an apple.

Apollo hated apples.

Just the sight of the fruit brought his anger back to the surface. He looked from the outline of apple to the blood on his boots to the boy still crying on the bed.

There was nothing he could do for the boy or about the blood. But all the artwork and the apple made Apollo realize there was something he could do about Jacks.

“You’re quite talented,” Apollo told the boy. “Some of this art is good.” “Thank you.” The boy sniffed.

“Do you think you could draw something for me?” Apollo picked up a notebook and a pencil, then he handed the items to the boy.

“You want me to draw you something now?”

“Yes. Art is supposed to be good therapy for the soul.” Apollo told the boy what he’d like him to draw.

The boy replied with a quizzical look, but he made no attempt to argue with the prince. Most people usually didn’t, though it might have been better for this boy if he had.

As it was, the boy quickly went to work on his sketch, bowing his head over his book as he feverishly outlined and shaded and did whatever it was that artists did. When he finished, he carefully tore out the page and handed it to Apollo.

“Excellent,” Apollo said. “This is really good work, young man.” “Thank you.”

“Do you feel any better now?” “Not really,” muttered the boy.

Apollo clapped him on the shoulder. “I truly am sorry for your loss,” he whispered, “but soon you won’t feel any pain at all.”

Then Apollo took his knife and stabbed the boy in the heart.

Shock and pain briefly crossed the boy’s face before he fell back on the bed, as dead as the rest of his family.

Apollo felt a moment of sadness. He wasn’t really a monster. He just did what had to be done. A boy this trusting and this cowardly wouldn’t have made it long in this world; his family was all dead now, anyway. And Apollo would make sure his sacrifice was put to good use.

The prince wrapped the boy’s hands around the dagger, making it look as if the death was self-inflicted for whoever found him later. Then, after a quick glance in the mirror to make sure his shirt didn’t have any blood on it, Apollo stepped into the hall and quickly shut the door behind him before the waiting guard could see inside the room.

“How did it go, Your Highness?” asked the guard.

Apollo shook his head mournfully. “Such a tragedy. The boy feels guilty for surviving. I fear he’ll never be the same. But he did draw me a picture of the man who murdered his family.”

Apollo handed the drawing to the guard. “Have new wanted posters drawn up. Mention this massacre and then add this picture of Lord Jacks.”

You'll Also Like